The USDA Food and Agricultural Education Information System released a report this week revealing that the number of women undergraduates enrolled in land-grant agricultural programs is larger than the number of men enrolled.
Gender breakdown was examined for 67 universities within six programs: agricultural economics, business and management; agricultural mechanization and engineering; animal science; agricultural public services; plant sciences; and food science and technology. Overall figures include each of those six programs as well as eight additional related areas.
The study, which examines trends from 2004 to 2011, found that overall gender breakdown has shifted over the last eight years. From 2004 to 2008, the number of males enrolled exceeded the number of females. In 2008, the number of females and males were roughly equivalent, and from 2009 to 2011, the number of females enrolled outpaced the number of males.
Female enrollment has grown steadily over the reporting years, increasing 19.9% from 2009 to 2011.
In comparing the six core programs studied, male enrollment is higher in agricultural economics, agricultural mechanization, and plant sciences. In the remaining three areas, agricultural public services, animal sciences, and food science and technology, female enrollment surpasses male enrollment.
The increasing number of females in agricultural undergraduate programs draws comparisons to the number of female farm operators, which has risen 19% between 2002 and 2007, according to the 2007 Census of Agriculture.
The Census also found that nationally, 13.9% of farms have a female principal operator.
The complete report is available here.